You Just Don’t Argue Anymore

Meghan and Harry’s Oprah interview is a case study in knowing when to leave a job.

“Should I quit?”

Whether it’s phrased that way or not, it’s probably the #1 question in my inbox any given week. And other than in an HBR piece I wrote back in 2011, entitled, Don’t Give Up, I haven’t made any of my hundreds of response notes public.

Unlike with other topics, stripping out the specifics of a “should I quit?” story makes it empty. Because it’s in the details that we can spot the issue. 

So when I watched the Oprah interview of Meghan and Harry, I thought, oh, this is a brilliant case study in knowing when to leave a job. One we can all watch together, and then kibitz. 

(Let’s do that in the comments?)


Meghan passed the big interview (with the Queen)! She even wrote letters to the Palace members, saying, “I’m here for you” when she started. Despite wanting to “make them proud” in this new gig, she (like a lot of new hires) was surprised to learn the reality of the “job.”

One turning point was a (false) rumor about how Meghan made a colleague (Kate) cry. Yet, the institution didn’t correct it. Neither did the colleague. Meghan was made to feel a villain when she was actually the person harmed; the truth wasn’t told. Meghan described this as “a polarity,” reminding me of how women or POC are often pitted against each other (catfight, anyone?) as if there is only so much room at the table. The Palace declined to do for Meghan what they managed to do for Prince Andrew with his relationship to pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. 

She had always worked, always had freedom and independence, and had been outspoken about women’s voices. She gave all that up when she joined the Palace. It was fine at the beginning, a part of the bargain. The institution would “protect her” in return. But slowly, the deal becomes one-sided. She is denied even the chance to see her friends and do brunch. 

No wonder she started feeling lonely and at a loss. 

The Palace refused baby Archie a title and the accompanying security that historical protocol dictated. In fact, they wanted to change the convention. No explanation is given as to why Meghan and her child were going to be valued as “less than” their contemporaries. 


Meghan and Harry both reveal that someone in the Palace (without naming the person because it would be “damaging”) raised questions about how dark baby Archie’s skin will be when he is born. As Oprah said, What. WHATWhoa. “Hard to understand,” Meghan says. The Commonwealth after all is 60-70% people of color. She could have been an asset. A benefit. Especially in these times. Yet she was denied.  

The situation became almost unsurvivable. 

Meghan realizes the vitriol is not about what’s she’s done or doing but simply because she was breathing. As this clarity takes hold, she’s suicidal, but had the courage and community in Harry to voice it. But when she asked for help from the Palace, they told her she could not seek in-patient care, because that “wouldn’t be good for the institution.” 

(Um, excuse me?!)

Meghan then talks about how when she was an actress, she had a union to have her back. Here, even being a gawddamn princess, she had zippo. 

At this point, it was clear there had to be a change in job scope, job structure. 

So Harry & Meghan move to a Commonwealth country, intending to still work for the Queen. In retaliation, the Palace decides Harry’s security would be removed. With the world already knowing their location, this decision puts their lives in danger. 

They thought they were negotiating new terms, but instead, they got fired. (Meghan is blamed as if she the one in charge when she is the one being harmed. Similar to how Google handled the situation of AI leader Timnit Gebru’s work exit.)

Harry is the only one that has Meghan’s back, worrying that “history would repeat itself,” referring to his mom’s death. Diana was also affected by negative media (that the Palace equally enabled). Harry sees that Megan has it even worse. Because of racism, fersure. But also, how social media accelerates and amplifies hate. The Palace ends Harry’s security, just as they ended Diana’s. Diana might not have died in Paris if she still had access to Palace security. 

It’s not as if he didn’t try to get the Palace to change. 

“This is not going to end well,” he argued, advocating that this was an opportunity for the monarchy to change, to adapt, to effectively use this new talent in Meghan to become more relevant. “They only know what they know,” he concludes. While he tried to educate them, they didn’t want to learn. 

When Oprah asks, “would you have stayed if you’d been supported?” it reminds me of every person I’ve ever seen struggle with the question of, “should I quit?” The answer is always no. People stay until they can’t stay. 

And this is equally true of Meghan and Harry. They say they will continue to do the work. Despite the title. Because for them, it’s the work that has always mattered. 


The Palace effectively told Meghan she couldn’t shine because she would outshine “us.” Even as she said, “I want to do you proud,” they signaled conformity wouldn’t work, because they didn’t see her as equal to her counterparts. So Meghan was made to feel small. Not because she wanted it or because she wasn’t strong, but because the organization wanted Meghan to have a low voice and belong in a less-than way. 


Though each “should I quit” story is its own, the questions I use to parse these situations: 

1. Are you defined as “less-than” by your contemporaries?

2. Are there few people/no people to lean on?

3. Is there only one way to do things; theirs?

4. When push comes to shove, will “they” choose their own private interests over shared goals? I.e., are you always stepped on as they rise? 

5. Does being a member of the team mean you have to passively follow what they say, or do you get to contribute what only you can? 

6. Do we learn from past mistakes or paper over them?

7. Are the institutional systems designed to listen to those who already have power, or open to being shaped by new voices and new ideas? 

The answers to these questions aren’t binary in nature, but I posed them in yes-or-no terms to help name the dynamics. Until we name and notice the social shapes around us, we can’t know what’s affecting whether we are seen for ourselves and are able to add one’s value, Onlyness to our workplace.

Answer the questions and you can begin to evaluate the crucial metric of whether you can stay at your job and thrive, or if staying means you’re just surviving, (or struggling. or in crisis).

(These questions, by-the-by, just happen to be the logic structure of Power of Onlyness. Question 1 is chapter 3, and so on. )

So, let’s chat: how have you known when it’s time to quit? What clues, what signs, what metrics did you use? Comments are a feature for paying subscribers. If for some reason, you’re not in a position to pay at this time, ping Paul and we’ll work something out. The rest of you, join in, and let’s talk about how we know if it’s time to leave.

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